A teenage Ricky arrives in Albert Square when his father Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) becomes landlord of The Queen Victoria public house in May 1988. Non-academic, Ricky proves to be a troublesome teenager and is frequently berated by his father. He begins dating Shireen Karim (Nisha Kapur), an Asian Muslim, much to Shireen's father Ashraf's (Tony Wredden) disgust. Ashraf forces Shireen into an arranged marriage, prompting Ricky to retaliate by terrorizing Ashraf for a while with a gang of racists.
Later on, Ricky shows talent mending cars, so the Mitchell brothers, Phil (Steve McFadden) and Grant (Ross Kemp), take him on at their auto repair shop as an apprentice mechanic in 1990. Ricky begins dating the Mitchell brothers' younger sister Sam (Danniella Westbrook) and when she decides she wants to get married at 16, she and Ricky elope to Gretna Green in 1991. Their marriage is short-lived, as Sam grows bored and starts to look for entertainment elsewhere; she leaves Ricky in 1993.
Despite a one-night stand with Mandy Salter (Nicola Stapleton) in January 1994, Ricky does not enter into another serious relationship until August, when he begins dating Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer). They move in together, but when Bianca begins to treat Ricky badly, he begins an affair with her best friend Natalie Price (Lucy Speed), in 1995. Natalie falls in love with Ricky and sets it up so that Bianca catches them kissing. Furious, Bianca finishes with Ricky, cutting up all his clothes and, after Ricky rejects Natalie, she flees Walford. Bianca eventually forgives Ricky and they reunite. Bianca strays with Lenny Wallace (Des Coleman), but immediately realises her mistake and marries Ricky on 17 April 1997. Later that year Bianca falls pregnant, but a prenatal scan reveals her unborn baby has both spina bifida and hydrocephalus; the Butchers decide to terminate the pregnancy. The trauma devastates them both, but it does bring them closer and in September 1998 Bianca discovers she has fallen pregnant again, resulting in her prematurely giving birth to their son Liam on Christmas Day 1998. Ricky watches as his dad Frank, and Peggy Mitchell become husband and wife in April 1999. Shortly afterwards, Bianca begins an affair with her mother Carol Jackson's (Lindsey Coulson) boyfriend, Dan Sullivan (Craig Fairbrass). When the affair is uncovered, the Butchers' marriage ends and Bianca departs with Liam for Manchester.
Ricky is left a broken and sullen man. He has to face Dan all the time, and Dan taunts him. In April 2000, Ricky finds out that his stepbrother Phil Mitchell has been making money with stolen motors along with Roy Evans and does a runner. He has a car crash and Phil is contacted to go and collect him. Ricky has just minor cuts and bruises. Phil is worried that Ricky will tell the police about the car scam and tries to explain and begs him to come back to Walford. Phil offers Ricky a partnership in The Arches to buy his silence. When they stop at a service station, Phil phones Lisa, but Ricky hitches a ride with a lorry driver heading to France. When Phil finds Ricky has gone, he is frantic but returns to Walford alone.
"Ricky & Bianca"
In May 2002, Ricky arrives to Bianca’s flat in Manchester to visit Liam alongside his fiancée, Cassie. He discovers that Bianca has stolen £50,000 of drug money from her boss, Vince. Ricky convinces Bianca to return the money before she gets hurt. Vince sends the pair to a drug deal which is a set up. Ricky and Bianca escape to a hotel where they briefly rekindle their romance. Bianca reveals that she is struggling as a single parent and is manipulated by Cassie into believing that Ricky's life would be ruined if Bianca returns to him. Bianca decides to leave Liam with Ricky and hitches a ride to a destination unknown.
Ricky returns to Walford in August 2002 with Liam after hearing from his former stepmother Pat Evans (Pam St. Clement), that his sister Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) has resorted to prostitution and drug abuse. Ricky remains to help Janine and returns to his old job as a mechanic at the Arches. He begins a second affair with Natalie, ending her marriage to Barry Evans (Shaun Williamson), whose father Roy is now married to Pat. Roy then dies after a heart attack after the affair is uncovered and he discovers that Pat had known about the affair but had failed to inform Barry and Roy.
Ricky and Natalie plan to leave Walford together in 2003, but when Janine informs Natalie about Ricky's one-night stand with his ex-wife Sam (now Kim Medcalf), Natalie dumps him. Janine goes on to marry Barry for his money and accidentally kills him during an argument. Discovering his sister's role in Barry's death, Ricky disowns Janine and leaves Walford again in February 2004, horrified.
On 31 March 2008, Ricky returns to Walford unexpectedly with his sister Diane Butcher (Sophie Lawrence) to inform Pat that Frank has died. Frank is cremated in Walford the following day. Ricky's fiancée Melinda (Siobhan Hayes) attends, but soon finishes with Ricky when she discovers he is penniless. The Butcher siblings and Pat scatter Frank's ashes in Albert Square gardens after the reading of his will. Ricky returns the following week when he discovers Bianca and Liam are living with Pat after being made homeless. Despite initial hostilities, Ricky helps Bianca regain custody of her four children, who have been put into care, and then decides to remain in Walford himself, to be near Liam. Ricky hopes for a reconciliation with Bianca, but she is involved with Tony King (Chris Coghill), and when Tony is released from prison later that year, he moves in with the Butchers. Unbeknown to the rest of the family, Tony is a paedophile and is having a secret relationship with Bianca's stepdaughter Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty). When this is uncovered, Bianca finishes with Tony and he is imprisoned. Bianca reveals that her youngest daughter, Tiffany (Maisie Smith), is actually the daughter of Ricky, conceived on their one-night stand in 2002. This is confirmed when Ricky takes a paternity test.
Phil orders Ricky to locate Sam in Brazil and he brings her home with him. When Bianca is about to admit her love for him, Ricky reveals that he loves Sam. Ricky and Sam get engaged. However, Sam embarks on an affair with Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) and when Bianca discovers this, she tells Ricky and the engagement is called off. Bianca surprises Ricky by proposing and they marry for a second time in February 2010. Ricky then discovers Sam is pregnant. It is unknown whether Ricky or Jack fathered Sam's baby. To Bianca's chagrin, Sam names Ricky as the father, but a paternity test reveals she is lying and the baby is Jack's.
When Bianca is jailed for attacking Connor Stanley (Arinze Kene) in 2011, Ricky struggles to support his children, so he accepts a job in Dubai where he is arrested for indecency after being caught swimming naked in the sea. He is fined and deported, leaving him with no money upon his return to Walford. From prison, Bianca blames her family's money problems on Ricky, and Ricky seeks comfort from Mandy who has returned to Walford. After reliving their youth and taking drugs, Ricky and Mandy have sex again. Later, Mandy confesses that their one-night stand in 1994 left her pregnant, but their baby daughter, Kira, died shortly after birth. Ricky immediately regrets having sex with Mandy and decides not to tell Bianca upon her release from prison; however, Bianca discovers the truth on New Year's Day 2012, the same night the Butchers are left distraught by Pat's death from cancer. Following Pat's funeral, Bianca realises she cannot forgive Ricky's latest infidelity; she ends their marriage, forcing Ricky to leave Walford. He returns in June for Janine's wedding to Michael Moon (Steve John Shepherd), along with Tiffany, Morgan and Diane. Janine goes into premature labour and Ricky sits with his newborn niece, Scarlett Moon, as she fights for survival. Later, he argues with Morgan's biological father, Ray Dixon (Chucky Venn), about their parenting methods, but they call a truce. He becomes Scarlett's godfather at her baptism before leaving with the children again.
In August 2015, he agrees to let Liam and his girlfriend Cindy Williams (Mimi Keene) live with him in Germany. He advises Liam against taking money from the Beales and offers to train him to become a mechanic.